By Alissa Falcone
One way to assess impacts to an ecosystem and express it to the public is to compile biological indicators, like fish and algae, into an index called the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI).
Academy scientists are working to change that.
Stefanie Kroll, project science director for the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, and a team of Academy scientists in collaboration with the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale, Pennsylvania, are visiting streams and sites to investigate how certain bioindicators relate to degradation and conservation efforts.
To further their knowledge of the effect of conservation efforts, Kroll and other scientists are also looking into how water quality is affected by stream connectivity and tributaries that flow into larger streams.They will target certain places along the river where tributaries connect to larger streams or to pollution “hotspots.”
Altogether, the work will measure the effects of restoration and protection on water quality, and help target where these practices can have the greatest positive impact, according to Kroll. The next step is to understand how researchers can best use these approaches to determine the biggest stressors to regional streams.
This article originally appeared in Drexel University’s 2015 Exel magazine.